JESUS & TRUTH
The question of someone speaking with an authority that overcame all these hurdles arises from today’s gospel. We read there that the people noted he spoke with authority like no one else they had encountered. Can we hope for others to aspire to such quality?
When Jesus was brought before Pilate confusion reigned with the many conflicting interests of the people gathered. Pilate raises the question of truth. Jesus replies with the statement, “What is truth?” Truth is an important notion for the good order of society, but as Jesus alluded to it, it is complex. Truth probably doesn’t have any simple answers.
Our hearts might hunger for a Universal truth. But such a search is complicated by the cultural context we all live within. Even in our own cultural context we all have our own personal story that further complicates the issue. Maybe there is no ultimate or absolute notion of truth that humans can grasp but could it be that it is a notion for our general pursuit of life’s journey.
Some of the greatest minds of humanity have paved the way for new directions for all other knowledge. In our day we quote Plato, Aquinas Hawkins and Einstein among the greatest, but history has also revealed that in time even their knowledge is incomplete and surpassed.
LOGOS AND PNEUMA
So where do we turn to account for Jesus authority. Two words are fundamental to his life.
The first we find in St. John, the Logos.
“In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God”
The word or logos has many definitions, but a simple one is ‘Reason that is conscious of itself’. By such a definition, it is alluding to the extraordinary gift of consciousness that brings definition and identify to the world we know.
The second word is Pneuma.
It is ancient and speaks of breath and spirit. For us the outpouring of spirit following Jesus Resurrection is the profound revelation of ultimate spirit that spiritual teachers identify as the life force that shapes creation. In contrast to logos that differentiates, pneuma unites, binds and generates.
As humans we use two such words, but theological philosophers say they are not two but one. It’s just that we need to separate the two in our own minds to understand how complex and multifaceted reality is. Logos and pnuema point to the ultimate source of life and are the agents for revealing the ultimate. We would understand that Jesus authority emanates from this reality. When he spoke or acted he was expressing, logos and spirit in our common daily realm. Jesus was not just learned, nor a specialist, nor a genius. We say Emmanual, God with us.
He was flesh and blood like us. He was mind like us. But there was an attitide of openness within that was in harmony with logos and pneuma that became a window to the divine absolute. As the handiwork of Gods creation we likewise are the revelation of logos and pneuma, it’s just that we don’t live in the same unity with the source that Jesus did.
Our great minds draw knowledge from their encounter with the world. The greatest we say is Jesus drawing knowledge from the source of all.